Scanning and Litigation Support
The hoopla about the "paperless office" of several years ago has been
buried under ever-increasing mounds of paper. The need for managing that
paper has also grown and, with the advent of more powerful PCs and scanners,
the question of scanning and turning the scanned version of a document
into an electronically-editable WordPerfect or Word document has been the
subject of much confusion. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of
litigation support, where speciality software offers massive productivity
gains. How does this technology work and what can it do for you?
A scanner is basically a photocopy machine, except that instead of printing
its image to a piece of paper, it makes an electronic copy of it, most
commonly in "tif" or "jpeg" format. You can then view that image on the
computer screen or have Optical Character Recognition software turn it
into an editable word processing document.
Once you have scanned your documents, you then have to manage them.
The programs that come with most scanners are suitable for managing images
of your children or pets, but not for large numbers of documents. You are
best off with some kind of document management system, such as Worldox.
In terms of litigation support, most litigation support programs include
a database function that will manage your scanned images.
What Does Lit Support Software DO?
Ideally, litigation support software should manage three types of information:
transcripts; physical documents received during discovery; and electronic
documents produced in-house or received during discovery.
• Transcripts. Replace manual digests with electronic equivalents.
This includes the ability to create a digest, to search a full-text index
of your combined transcripts to find any word in them, to issue-code specific
passages and otherwise attach notes concerning, e.g., rebuttal arguments,
objections, etc. In addition, if you are scanning documents you want the
ability to link the scanned image to the transcript so that when it mentions
"employment agreement" you click on your note and see a copy of the actual
• Physical documents. Those boxes and boxes of documents in your
war room should be immediately accessible on your PC. No need to go back
and hunt through the yellow stickies protruding from the edges of photocopies.
There are two parts to doing this. First, you need a database that contains
information about the documents, such as the Bates Number, people mentioned,
importance ranking, issue coding, type of document, summary, whether the
document is a duplicate, etc. Second, you will want to link scanned documents
to the record in the database. This serves two important functions: 1)
it makes it easier to enter information into the database because you can
see the document on the screen while you are entering information; and
2) you can always consult the document without leaving your PC. In most
cases, you can in effect take your entire war room with you to court, depositions,
etc., all completely searchable on your PC.
• Electronic documents. Word processing documents concerning
the case have been created in-house: motions, briefs, correspondence, etc.
Increasingly, documents produced during discovery may be electronic rather
than paper. You want to be able to integrate these into the rest of your
system. The goal here is to be able to call up and consult all relevant
material concerning the case from your PC: a kind of "one stop shopping."
"My Cases Aren't Big Enough"
Many people feel that litigation support programs are only for "big
cases." While it is true that the bigger the case, the more cost effective
are litigation support packages, there are two considerations that make
them effective even in relatively small cases (say, 500 documents or even
First, the ability to search every transcript and every document concerning
the case electronically can produce enormous time savings. If you have
ever spent more than 10 minutes or so hunting for a particular reference,
fact, passage in a transcript (or, more likely, had your paralegal spend
hours reviewing thousands of pages of transcripts), litigation support
can be a life-saver. The difference between finishing a brief at 10 pm
or 2 am is more than just 4 hours.
A second, less easily quantifiable but ultimately even more valuable
benefit is that being able to locate every instance of a particular
term, passage, any note that anyone in the firm has made concerning a case,
etc. within seconds means that the chance of a key item "slipping through
the cracks" is sharply reduced. The ability to react instantly to unexpected
information by searching the entire case electronically during a trial
or deposition can be critical in a case.
Depending on whether you include imaging, you will probably wind up
spending $1,000-2,000 per concurrent user for a litigation system, not
including installation, hardware, training, consulting time, etc. However,
licenses are generally concurrent, i.e., if you have 5 licenses,
any number of people can use the program as long as not more than 5 are
using it simultaneously. A small number of licenses will support a much
larger number of litigators.
Litigation support programs are very computer-intensive and require
fast machines with lots of memory. In addition, for anyone who spends substantial
amounts of time in front of a screen (more than 2 hours a day), a large
monitor (19" or better 21") is strongly recommended. The larger monitor
allows you to actually read the image of a document while reviewing the
database information on the same screen at the same time. The reduced eyestrain
will reduce the number of errors due to fatigue. If you have a large number
of documents, it will generally be cheaper and more efficient to have them
scanned by a service bureau, which will be able to do it much faster than
you can in-house. A service bureau will scan your documents and give you
back a database in the format you request that includes basic "objective"
information such as Bates Number, date, people mentioned, type of document,
number of pages, etc. This frees you up to analyze the documents. For small
batches of incoming materials (up to several hundred pages), you will want
to invest in a mid-range scanner with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF).
Many litigation support programs have their roots in one particular
function: a database to manage production documents (Concordance); transcript
software (Discovery); or a merger of different companies with different
strengths (Discovery with InMagic to produce Discovery Magic). Then there
are hybrid products such as JFS Litigator's Notebook, which is based on
Lotus Notes. For transcripts alone, people often use Livenote or Pubnetics'
e-transcript. Each product has its strengths and adherents, and more and
more products are coming on the market all the time. You need to determine
your needs and match them with specific programs that are available.
However, as a consultant with experience in a number of these programs
(including Concordance, Discovery, InMagic, Infogrator, e-transcript, LiveNote
and Summation), for over-all usability and functionality I most often recommend
Summation Blaze. One client characterized it as the "startup support package
you never outgrow." Until very recently, Summation's ability to handle
electronic (non-transcript) documents was poor and involved a series of
awkward workarounds, but the most recent version allows you to link electronic
documents on your hard drive directly to a database record, and this functionality
is likely to be improved in upcoming versions. Summation recently got a
lot of publicity because the Department of Justice's head litigator, David
Boies, used it to track documents in the DOJ v.
Litigation support software is an excellent example of a technology
that, by reducing the amount of time it takes you to gather information
and produce documents, can expand the amount of time available to do what
the client is really paying for: applying your legal expertise to the relevant
information in the case. In many ways the question is not "can I afford
to buy litigation support software," but "can I afford not to buy
WP Law Office 2000
WordPerfect Law Office 2000 is now shipping and can be ordered from
Heckman Consulting. In addition to the WordPerfect Professional Suite programs,
it contains the following legal-specific programs:
Amicus Attorney IV Organizer Edition
Black's Law Dictionary integrated into the speller
West's CiteLink 2.2
Dragon Dictate 4.0
DealProof SE 1.3 (a "proofreader" for inconsistencies
in your contracts)
NexLaw 9 legal extensions
Tools for publishing documents to the Web (Trellix and
Call (860) 395-0881 for discounted pricing. We also sell licenses, which
are not generally available through retail stores. Unless you are upgrading
from a typewriter, you probably qualify for upgrade pricing.
Tips & Tricks
Print a document without opening it. In the WordPerfect File Open dialog
box, select one or more documents. Right click and select "Print" from
the menu. The selected documents will print. You may have to wait a minute
or two to regain control of your screen while the documents are printing.